Rebelutionary Challenge

Greetings,

As rebelutionaries, we should always be on the lookout for worthwhile Hard Things to do that glorify God, push us out of our comfort zones, and help us to grow spiritually. Sometimes these Hard Things take the form of dramatic quests, like Zac Sunderland’s circumnavigation of the globe, of massive collaborations, like the Modesty Survey, or of personal challenges, like reading all the way through The Wealth of Nations in four months. But it can also take the form of a lifestyle change that may or may not be permanent. It is a Hard Thing of this last kind that I am going to propose to you. It will be up to you how permanent or transitory it will be, but I pray and hope that it will make a very long, lasting effect on your priorities and your values.

So here is the challenge: to exclude all television, videos not watched with the family, quizzes on Facebook (and similar activities on other places), and video games for one month, while replacing the time that you would otherwise have spent on those things doing worthy, profitable things like reading good quality books (like the Bible, Do Hard Things, or Don’t Waste Your Life), writing articles and/or posts, family time, and prayer.

This will be very hard as most of you are probably already very addicted (= in bondage to a lifestyle) to these things, especially TV and video games. Many of you will not consider it valuable, or necessary, or even good to do this. But I can personally testify that 1) these things are not necessary, and 2) it is best to go without them, if not all the time, then every once in a while for periods of time like fasts. These activities are all superfluous to our lives, schedules, and priorities. And they are also worldly in their very nature and content (not all are, but most are, and the atmosphere of each is congruent with the spirit of the world, not the Spirit of God), and as such we ought to pull away from, if not divorce ourselves utterly from them.

I am sure that most of you are still unconvinced that this sort of change would be a worthwhile or worthy venture. You have probably heard of us extremists that do not have a television in their house at all, and you have probably considered us as crazy and legalistic (read here and here for more thoughts on that). You probably question the exact reasons why I claim that avoiding TV and video games is good (or even necessary in some situations). To start answering that, I’ll ask another, very important, and pertinent question: what is (or should be) your top priority? What governs and rules the courses of your life? What is the most important thing to always focus on? What should we always measure our thoughts, actions, motives, and spent time by? I hope that you all have caught my drift, and have already answered the question: Christ. The health of your relationship with Christ should always be your number one concern. This is unashamedly radical, extremist, and totally fanatical.

Let me introduce you to your soul’s ‘reins.’ This is the part of you from which springs all of your soul’s health and illness. The Old Testament calls it (for the most part) your ‘reins.’ The Greek word for it (it is translated into many different English words) is ‘phroneo.’ This is that part of your heart to which all the rest of your being is hardwired. All of your actions, thoughts, words, motives, priorities, etc. are all controlled and influenced by whatever is on this ‘throne’ of your heart. God designed all of us with this throne, and it was designed for Him to be on it. But we don’t always want God to have the throne of our lives, and God gives us that choice (its called free-will), but there always has to be something there. It could be practically any idol we concoct: any of the ‘little-g’ gods created by man since the beginning to replace God our Creator in our hearts.

We were not designed to live this way; we were designed to have God on our hearts’ thrones. As a result, all kinds of diseases come upon our lives when we choose to deviate from God having His place. Lust, drugs, drunkenness, addictions of all sorts, and, yes, infatuation with TV and video games, are all diseases which afflict our souls from this. If Christ is ruling your heart, then you won’t be able to have these diseases. Sanctification is actually, by definition, the placing of Christ on the throne of your heart.

So, to sum it all up, you shouldn’t have time to play video games! Our lifestyles ought to be geared to keep our lives under God’s control. True, there are many video games and TV shows that it is possible receive some benefit from, but we ought to prefer to spend our time doing things in our recreation that have more return value. At least every once in a while. There are tons of things that are totally fun to do, and which are thousands of times more edifying to us and to those around us than any computer game or TV show out there. And edifying is the most important thing in the world to be doing. So the question is not “Why not watch TV?” it is “Why watch TV at all?”

There probably are several of you who are already doing these things as a lifestyle. If those of you who are already doing this would take the time to encourage and support those brave rebelutionaries who take the challenge, I would be very grateful. There is no set starting time, and there is no set ending time: it is up to each of you and your own families how and when you go about this. Please post questions, ideas, inspirations, and progress as you go. Also feel free to discuss what you have learned or are learning from this lifestyle.

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser

IN

Greetings,

Romans 8:1 [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

I was just thinking about all of the times that the Bible commands and exhorts us to be ‘in’ something. We must be IN Christ, IN the Spirit, IN the Light, etc. But that seemed to me, and always has seemed, a little slippery and vague. I mean, I can understand that preposition when used about going into a building, or putting something in a can, but in Christ? How are we supposed to do that? What is it like?

Then I decided to think of it in the terms of what I already knew: as if Jesus was a clear glass jar that I was supposed to sit in (not irreverently, of course, just to figure this out). I thought: what types of things are there about sitting in a glass jar that I can apply to being in Christ? And immediately I began to think of some.

For one thing, I was sitting on it, and thus was supported by it: it was holding me up. It surrounded me, and that has several implications. One was that it protected me from what was outside: it was a hedge of protection (of course Jesus is much more of a protection to me than any glass jar). Everything I saw I saw through the glass jar, and if it was tinted, everything I saw would be tinted: I saw everything through its perspective and context. It was enclosing me, it had walls and boundaries: I was guided and limited (rules, laws, instructions, and commandments given by God are always for our good, by the way).

So we have:

  1. Christ ought always to be our support. We ought always to be relying on and trusting in Him.
  2. Christ is our protection, our Savior, our defender, our fortress, our refuge.
  3. Christ and His teachings, desires, and values are what we ought to always view the world through, not our own eyes and understanding.
  4. Christ, His laws, His mandates, His desires, and His commands are always to limit and direct us, and we ought never to be outside His delimiting boundaries. We are where He puts us.

Suddenly being IN Christ and the Spirit made so much more sense! I do not know if I am reading too much into this one little word, or if I am totally off my rocker, but I found it to be exciting and encouraging. If you have any other observations to be made, or even contradictions, feel free to comment and let me know! In any case, I hope it made you think about what being IN Christ might mean. What do you think?

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser

Longfellow

Greetings,

I was reading some of Longfellow’s poetry, and came across these two that struck me as profound and valuable to our spiritual lives.

The Rainy Day

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the moldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

The Village Blacksmith

Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat,
He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter’s voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like her mother’s voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must think of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eyes.

Toiling, — rejoicing — sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night’s repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning deed and thought.

I hope that those bless you as they did me. Farewell!

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser

Abound in Love

Philippians 1:9-11 And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and [in] all judgment;
10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ;
11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.

I was doing my devotions with Steve Gallagher’s “Pressing on Toward the Heavenly Calling,” and today it was focusing on Ephesians 1:1-14, with emphasis on the word perisseuo (Strongs: 4052). It sent me to four other passages to find out more about it, and I got stuck on the above passage in Philippians. Without a doubt, this was today’s piece of truth from God.

I started looking at the word (translated as ‘abound’ in verse 9), then looked at the context of the verse. I became a little confused (which is a sign that there is something to learn: a good thing!) about its coupling of love, knowledge, and judgment. I knew that knowledge and judgment go together, but love? They seemed disconnected to me: two different types of God’s blessings. I no doubt felt this way because of people’s extreme frequency of emphasizing love over knowledge. But in spite of my disagreement with the dichotomy, I lapsed into its confusion at this verse. I began to explore the surrounding passage, and slowly the light began to dawn, and I slowly became more and more excited. God’s Word is marvelous!

There is a sequence of steps here which lead us on the path of sanctification, which is a kind of which the Bible is full (see the Be-attitudes in Matthew 5, 1 Peter 1:5-10, etc.). I looked at it following the progression from Paul’s prayer to holiness, then I followed it back again, then did a word study to check my findings. I will try here to articulate what I found, although many of you may have already found this gem in Scripture.

Here is the first step: abounding and increasing in love. This is the word that started the whole study:

To super abound (in quantity or quality), be in excess, be superfluous; also (transitively) to cause to super abound or excel: — (make, more) abound, (have, have more) abundance (be more) abundant, be the better, enough and to spare, exceed, excel, increase, be left, redound, remain (over and above).

This is extreme love, and the love is agape: the love of 1 Corinthians 13. It is an utter outpouring of yourself for others, complete unselfishness and humility. It is the very picture of Christ, given later in this book (Philippians 2:1-11). To do this is to empty yourself, and no remnant of pride can remain in control with those conditions. You are drawing close to Christ, and He is drawing nigh to you (James 4:8). You are giving out of what you have, giving, giving, becoming a giver, and that works purity in the end (Luke 11:41). Love (in and by Christ) working out righteousness via this path is clinched by the last verse in this passage: “…filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ…”

The next key word is epignosis (Strongs: 1922). It means clear and exact knowledge; knowledge that powerfully influences your lifestyle; knowledge which determines the manifestations of religion (true and undefiled religion) and moral conduct; and which is intimately connected with the personal sympathy, desires, and your heart. In plain Baptist-preacher terms, it is “heart-knowledge” (although I still maintain that it is head-knowledge as much as heart-knowledge). This type of knowledge is crucial to sanctification, and is only available through walking with in the Light of God and His Spirit, which is attained by the previous step: abounding and growing in love. Also coming out of love is judgment, which is translated from aisthesis (Strongs: 144). It means knowledge that has to do with sensation and experience, not just mental (like epignosis). It (as is evidenced by its translation as ‘judgment,’ and by Strongs) also has to do with choosing and discerning. This also requires God’s divine guidance and presence, brought about by showing and growing in love.

The next step is ‘approving things that are excellent.’ Two words: dokimazo (Strongs: 1381), and diaphero(Strongs: 1308. Dokimazo means to try or test, to prove whether something be worthy of receiving, trusting, and relying on. It means to bring out that which is good, not that which is bad (that is peirazo, to tempt). The other one, diaphero, means (in this context) something that has born through and passed the tests. So the phrase ‘approve things that are excellent’ means to test things, seeking out those things that are good and acceptable to God for us to use and rely on. Cross reference this with 1 Thessalonians 5:21. This is clearly dependant upon the previous step: how can we test the goodness of something without Godly knowledge and judgment?

This leads to the next step, one of the most important: becoming ‘sincere and without offense.’ These are the two words: eilikrines (Strongs: 1506), and aproskopos (Strongs: 677). Eilikrines is a beautiful and fascinating word. It means pure, unsullied, free from blot or blemish to such a degree as to bear examination in the full splendor of the sun. It also means clearness or perspicuity of mind or understanding by which one is able to see all things intelligibly, clearly, and proceed without mistake. It means shaken out, cleaned, transparent, pure, and unmingled. Aproskopos means to not stumble or fall in the way of righteousness and having a clear conscience. Think about it! To not fall, to be clear and clean and pure! And it includes: ’till the day of Christ!’ We are not only in this righteous state, but we are in it continuously, and consistently! This is a good goal!

The last step is actually a part of the previous one, with a clarification: ‘Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.’ This tells us that this is more than just a righteousness seen only by God (we get that at salvation), but is truly an actual outworking of righteousness in our lives. It is fruit, springing out from the tree of God’s Holiness, that we take and are filled with. Filled utterly to overflowing! That word ‘filled’ is pleroo (Strongs: 4137), which means literally ‘crammed,’ ‘replete, ‘satisfactorily furnished,’ ‘finished,’ and ‘complete.’ This verse also reminds us whereby we get this righteousness: it is ‘by Jesus Christ.’ It is not by us, nor by any other earthly or heavenly aid: it is by Christ that we gain the victory. It also tells us why we get this great victory: for the same reason that we were created: for the ‘glory and praise of God.’ Not for our glory, but for God’s.

So here is the conclusion and sum of the whole matter: it is crucial to finding righteousness and sanctification for us to love others and to continually increase in that love. It is also crucial that we seek to accurately discern and cleave to good, while shunning evil, by continually drawing closer and closer to the Holy and Majestic Glory of God, yielding to and relishing in His penetrating, purging, convicting, and cleansing light.

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser

Ask, Seek, Knock

Greetings,

Matthew 7:7-8 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Devotions are important: crucially important. I am ashamed of how often and how much I have neglected to realize just how important they are. Oh yes, I would do them, but they would be more ‘me-time’ than ‘devoted-to-God’ time. Doing devotions right and getting stuff out of them is just as important as doing them in the first place. Time and focus is a major part of our treasure: ask any businessman. But where are we investing our time, and how are we investing it? Are we truly setting aside time out of our schedules and our hearts for God? I was assuredly not very devoted in my devotions before, and it affected every area of my life.

But what good is it to spend two hours in prayer and two hours in Bible reading every day if you get no fresh, new insights, strength or hope from them? Some people would say that it does not matter: read it anyway. But how many of us have considered that it might be that we are reading the Scriptures the wrong way? Practice only makes perfect if you are practicing right: practicing playing baseball holding the bat from the wrong end will not help you much (it actually might for all I know, I know practically nothing about sports, but I needed an example). The Pharisees were experts in the Scriptures if reading it was all it took: they had all of it memorized, with the commentaries. We ought to do more.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them,] because they are spiritually discerned.

So how ought we to pray and read our Bibles? Well, it is evident from Scripture that the unsaved cannot understand the Scriptures, for their minds are corrupted and earthly, and cannot understand heavenly things. When we are saved, we are given the Holy Spirit, which opens up to us the mysteries of God. Without the Holy Spirit we are helpless. But that means that if we do not rely upon the Holy Spirit, then we are just as helpless as the lost in reading God’s Word, which is a very sad condition.

So we see that we must needs rely on God, and not on ourselves in our devotions. And this is where the title of my article and my text verse comes in. I have learned that we can have utter faith that after every devotion time, we can come away with a new, fresh, empowering truth for the day. But this can only happen by faith and prayer. But it can happen every time: it is a promise from God. To expect anything else is belittling and dishonoring to God. So how do we do this? We ask, seek, and then knock!

First, as we prepare for our devotions, before we approach God in prayer or in His Word, we ask Him in faith to guide us by His Holy Spirit, and to open our eyes, that we may behold the wondrous things that He has for us in His Word. Then, instead of just sitting there and waiting for a voice like a trumpet or a still small voice to speak out of the blue and say: “Pray about ***, then go to Philippians 1:7-9 and see the note that I put in there for you,” we go and seek. Go looking for God’s insights in His Word or start praying about your day or whatever is on your list that you need to pray about. But when something seems to stick out off the page, or if you do not understand something: stop, for you might very well have found it. Then knock, asking God to open it up to you. Sometimes He will use one thing to get you to somewhere completely different, but He always will show you something. And it will be what He knows you need.

This is a Biblical pattern, and the promises are true and faithful, but I will not be so prideful as to say that this is the only way to do your devotions. I am only stating that it has transformed my devotions in the past two days. If you have any other tips, mindsets, Scriptures, experiences, or insights, please feel free to comment (comments are better because others get to see what you say as well) to let me know. This is something that we can all grow in, and I am finding that I need to grow in it especially.

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser

Confession

Greetings,

For the next six weeks or so I will be re-setting my goals and working to deepen my relationship with Christ. I have been struggling and failing for a long time now in several areas, and I want and need to get it right. So I do not know how much I will be posting, although I will still post. Please pray that God will guide me to open up my life to Him in every area, and that I will in the end be transformed into what His desire is for me.

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser aka Sir Emeth Mimetes

Part 2: Legalism

Greetings,

From what my last post was saying, one would at first glance be unsurprised by my next statement: “we ought to be extremely modest.” Then I can imagine all of the red flags going up and every one of them screaming: “Wait! Do you want us all to be dressed in black bags with only our eyes showing, and them behind a veil?! Do you want me to go live in a cave or a nunnery and never go out?! That is legalistic!” This is the reaction that I want to address. It is very common for people (in topics even far removed from the issue of modesty) to constantly bring up legalism and sometimes use it to attack perfectly sound arguments that convicted them.

So what is the definition of legalism? I tried to find out, but was thwarted by the extreme overabundance of varying opinions. It seems that everyone agrees that it is bad, but everyone disagrees on what exactly it is! Here are some of them…

Legalism:

  • Adding works to grace for salvation.
  • Excessively strict, literal, or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code.
  • To focus exclusively on biblical law rather than our relationship with God.
  • Trying to hold to the Old Covenant.
  • Making up a new law that isn’t really in the Bible.
  • Judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.
  • Being distracted by little rules from the weightier matters of spirituality like our relationship to God.
  • A collection of facts rather than a study of the Living God.
  • A too-strict set of rules that cannot apply to everybody.
  • A set of rules that do not allow for the working of the Holy Spirit in changing our minds.
  • Relying on human, fleshly understanding instead of God in our seeking to be righteous.

That is quite a list. Most could actually be considered viable definitions or attributes of legalism. Most I would agree need to be avoided in the Christian life, depending on what you mean by them. Here is what I would say is the best, most accurate definition of legalism (derived from my father): “Legalism is the extrapolation of rules/laws (the letter of the law) beyond their intended scope (the spirit of the law) in a prideful attempt to put yourself above others.” This is the definition that is most germane to the manner in which it is popularly used in the type of cases that I am referring to.

When, in my example of extreme modesty, people bring up legalism, they are misunderstanding what I mean by extreme modesty. They are assuming modesty is a set of rules of dress and behavior, and so when you say “extreme modesty” they immediately equate that with extreme rigidity and extent of rules, which, ironically, is legalistic if you think about it. They utterly miss the point: modesty is not about ‘rules’ per se, nor is it utterly about a ‘heart attitude’ as many proclaim, neither is it really a mixture of the two. It is an outworking of an inner spirit in certain definable ways. Just like faith and works cannot be separated, true inner modesty cannot be separated from the ‘legal’ rules that must needs pour out from it.

When I say that something must be extreme, I mean that it must be extremely Godly. The world has overtaken our language and drastically and brutally subverted it to its way of thinking. In thus doing, they have made semantics much harder to navigate, and have crippled many people’s attempts at articulating their otherwise very good beliefs. If we let them define our terms, then they will define our communication, and will in so doing cripple us to a great extent. It is they who have defined modesty as a bunch of rules to create a psychological barrier to us obeying God’s desires.

So the gradient ought not to be more rules or less rules, it ought to be closer to God and further away from God. Everything pours out from where we are on that gradient. This does not mean that it is ‘up to each person’s discretion and conviction,’ but that it is all based on God, who changes not and does not waver, and who would have you glorify Him with modesty in every area of your life to its fullest extent. We ought to reflect our clothing of righteousness to as great a degree as possible.

That being said, I do agree that legalism is wrong, but only in the true sense of the word. Avoiding legalism does not mean that you are avoiding rules that are strict and all-encompassing: it means that you are not perverting rules to match your selfish desires.

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser

Go to Part 1: The Goldilocks Fallacy

Part 1: The Goldilocks Fallacy

Greetings,

There is an idea that is prevalent in the Church, and it is dangerous. To some its differences from the truth are only in semantics, but the concept and worldview behind the idea is far worse than skin deep.

You have probably heard the concept that in any action there are two extremes that are wrong, and that the right way lies in the middle between them. It is like Goldilocks saying “Not too hot, not too cold, just right.” This is what I mean by the Goldilocks fallacy: the idea that ‘Right’ is in between two wrongs. This is a popular point of view, but it is utterly the opposite of what God desires of us. This can be explained by an analogy of a road which you want to stay on, and the two ditches on the sides. You want to avoid the ditches, and stay on the road. The problem with this concept of how we ought to walk our lives is that the road is defined by the ditches, whereas God’s standard of right and wrong is utterly independent of where evil is. If you try to live your life avoiding evil, you will utterly miss the way that God desires of you.

It has been accurately said that if we measure our distance from the world by how far away we are from the world, we will always end up being drawn into perdition with the world. We cannot base our standards of good off of the standards of the evil! The road analogy is deplorably insufficient for the truth of the matter: what if God wants us on a different road? Many people who have bought into the Goldilocks fallacy are thinking in only one dimension, in a line between two extremes. But they miss the fact that God might consider everything on that line as sin, and want you off of it: two dimensions, or even three!

We need to be completely ignoring where the world’s standards are as far as setting our own standards goes. The point is not to be avoiding sin or staying away from crossing a boundary: the point is to be seeking and hunting for God’s glory and pleasure in every area of life. The focus should never be the wrong, but the Right: God the Righteous. We need to be hunting for God’s desire in every situation, begging for Him to draw us closer to Him. He is the focus, He is the goal, He is the Life and the Light! There is nothing on this earth greater than He is: we need to seek Him earnestly with every fiber of our being! It is a direction, not a line, that ought to be our focus and our goal. We should not be looking for where sin starts, but where God’s pleasure lies most. We should be running always towards God, always seeking to improve. God spews out those who are lukewarm and unwilling to sacrifice all for Him and His kingdom.

But does not the Bible teach that we are to be moderate? Many people think so, but the Bible uses the word moderation only once, and then it means appropriate or patient. I believe that we are to be extremely patient and appropriate in our thoughts, our actions, our words, in every part of our lives. We ought to always seek to be under the control of God and His Spirit, always striving to act appropriately to our identity in Christ: ambassadors and adopted sons of the King of Kings. That requires extreme devotion and discernment of God’s desire and standards.

What I just described above is very extreme, which is exactly the opposite of what most Christians today would tell you to desire. They claim that we must have moderation in all things, that extremes are dangerous. I am a zealot, a radical, an extremist, or at least I hope that I am. We ought not to ever have moderation in anything: we need God in everything! We need to be extremely dedicated and devoted to the Lord God of Hosts; extremely pure and holy for the sake of the God of Holiness; and extremely passionate, fervent, vehement and ardent about the God of the universe. Many people think that a ‘radical’ approach to a problem must somehow include violence, but this is not what I mean by radical. Radical just means very different in the foundations of an idea or action. And what I am proposing is very radical. Do you want the joys of extremism? They are extremely rewarding: more than anything else on earth.

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser

Go to Part 2: Legalism

Hermeneutics 2

Greetings,

In the Rebelution Cafe, we ended up discussing Piper’s views that he stated regarding hermeneutics and subjective interpretation of the Bible. Because of some of the comments made, I thought that it might help to clarify in a little way what I think he might have been trying to get across (albeit in a condensed way).

Let us take 2 Tim. 4:13 first, then I will apply this method to Jeremiah 29:10-13, as was requested by one person.

2 Timothy 4:13 The cloak that I left at Troas with Carpus, when thou comest, bring [with thee,] and the books, [but] especially the parchments.

This is very obviously a specific request for a specific person, and neither of these specific attributes apply to us: we are not Timothy, and there is no longer a cloak in Troas, no longer a Carpus, and Paul definitely does not need it anymore. But that does not mean that we can glean nothing from this verse! It just means that, as I said above in my article, we need to broaden the principle until the relevant context matches with ours. Here is an entire sermon by Spurgeon on this passage that is a great example of how to do this.

Now for Jeremiah 29:10-13.

Jeremiah 29:10-13 For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place.
11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
13 And ye shall seek me, and find [me,] when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Now, obviously, we are not the kingdom of Israel, we are not in Babylon or even being prepared to be sent there, we are not in physical captivity, and we are not even in the Old Testament covenant. So, you might think that it has no application to us, but it does, and it has a marvelous lesson.

Deuteronomy 30:2-5 And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
3 That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
4 If [any] of thine be driven out unto the outmost [parts] of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
5 And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.

That is a snippet of God’s promise to the nation of Israel. It is actually a prophecy of what Jeremiah was talking about. It is a promise for God to not forget His chosen nation, even during their rebellion, and will still hear and help them if they repent and turn to Him. Even in the midst of their punishments, He would hearken to them and save them. This is what God was reiterating in Jeremiah.

But how to apply it to ourselves? We have the same promise, made by God to us as His adopted children, that even in our chastening, He heareth us, and He will lead us to liberty and victory. Even when we fail Him, He still loves and cares, and He will lead us out as we repent.

But that might have more or less to do with us depending on our situation. But if we do not fit into that category, we can broaden the principle: God cares for His children, and He will do so no matter what they or anybody else does. He will guide and protect them from harm that is outside of His plan for them, and He will not forsake them. I think that would apply to all of us.

Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform [it] until the day of Jesus Christ:

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser

Affliction

Greetings,

In our study on the Rebelution Forums of John Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life, the following question came up:

Is it obvious that all men seek happiness (even those who commit suicide)? Is the pursuit of happiness inevitable? How do you think the Bible regards the pursuit of Happiness? Cite Scripture verses in your answer.

The following is my answer.

In each man there is the deep requirement to seek his own happiness, or what appears to him to be happiness. This last qualifier is important because we are very often wrong. We are in fact very rarely right, and even then it is only because we relinquished our understanding in favor of God’s wisdom. Understanding what true happiness is and where its source is one of the most important things that we can do in life (of you look at it right, it is the most important thing). To put a definition of happiness that is different from God’s, and then to seek after that happiness is to commit idolatry: for the true definition of true happiness is God’s presence and the source of true happiness is God.

But God’s definition of happiness (or joy, as some people have distinguished it as) is very different from our definitions, and may seem to be the exact opposite from what we want. But God’s definition is always true and best, for God always knows best.

Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed [are] they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you,] and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

God considers pain, affliction, and suffering to be in His plans for our joy! This is all across the Bible. There is deprivation of immediate pleasures (Hebrews 11:25), pain and torture (Hebrews 11:36-39). but God sees all these things as blessings, and desires that we should also (Acts 5:40-41).

Mark 13:13 And ye shall be hated of all [men] for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

This is because God’s blessings include joy, peace, and great love in the midst of our circumstances. These are not dependent upon our material and physical well-being, but transcends them. And by us being tormented and attacked by the world, we are being assured that we are on Christ’s side! The problem is when you are not being persecuted! This does not mean that God will never give us success and safety on earth, nor that it is never in God’s will for us to own a Cadillac, but that we ought not to be surprised, worried, confused, or downhearted when hard times come because of our faith. Rejoice instead that God saw fit to bless you in that way.

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
1 Peter 4:14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy [are ye;] for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

With joy and peace in Christ,
Jay Lauser